Just weeks after inking a deal with G.O.O.D. Music, Chicago rapper Valee released the official music video for his “Miami” remix featuring label boss Pusha T. And let’s just say the project wasn't what many fans expected.
Rather than present the obvious shots of beaches and scantily clad women, the video’s director Hebru Brantley decided to portray the essence of Miami in a less predictable way. He shelved the party scenes and yachts for a trippy concept that was inspired by the state of mind many people experience after visiting the Magic City.
“It’s definitely trippy. My idea for the video—though it might’ve not necessarily been fully conveyed—is like, when I think about Miami and the experiences that I’ve had in Miami—no matter how good a time it was or how bad it time—it’s sort of that Miami hangover, right?” he told Complex. “It’s a very surreal place in a lot of aspects. It’s nowhere like I’ve ever been. […] It’s just that feeling of, ‘What the fuck did I experience this weekend or this week?’ Again, that surrealness of Miami: him waking up in this sort of empty restaurant, not knowing where the fuck he was or how he got there. The woman in the silver dress sort of helped him through; it’s like a ‘follow the white rabbit’ sort of thing.”
Brantley, a Chicago-based artist, said he got involved with the project through his good friend Andrew Barber, the founder of Fake Shore Drive, Valee’s manager, and he also makes a cameo in the video as the bartender. Brantley said his relationship with Barber helped create a level of trust between him and Valee.
“This is the first time we got to work together. He trusted Andrew’s opinion, and because Andrew and I have worked together for years […] I had that vote of confidence coming in,” he explained. “What’s dope about [Valee] is that he’s very much like, ‘Let’s figure it out and you tell me what you need from me.’ He really trusted what I wanted to do. I’ve worked with other folks in the past—rappers or whoever—but Valee has this willingness to do just do it. I definitely appreciated his work ethic. I thought it made for a good little marriage.”
Though Valee was pretty open to Brantley’s ideas, there was one thing the rapper reportedly refused to do: get into the water. But that’s pretty understandable considering the “ocean” scene wasn’t actually filmed in Miami. It was shot in the Midwest during winter.
“He wasn’t going to jump his ass into Lake Michigan in that weather,” Brantley said with a laugh. “It was like four degrees out that day, we’re on the beach in Chicago. That last shot was on the Southside—59th Street Beach. It was freezing. I had on two coats. It was that cold.”
Brantley also spoke about his experience working with Pusha, who served as Valee’s “guide” in the dreamlike video. The artist commended the G.O.O.D. Music president for his professionalism and his unfailing commitment to each shot.
“I had met Push before, man. Push is a dope dude. I love that guy. He’s so fucking professional,” Brantley said. “I appreciate everything he brought to it—every take, every time we’re doing a verse, he brought the same amount of energy, if not more, each time […] It was really good to watch him work, and I’m such a big fan. He didn’t disappoint.”
Those who have seen the video may have to noticed that “Brutus Jones” was credited as the project’s director. Though this detail may have confused some fans, Brantley said he chose to use the alias as a way to honor the history of black filmmaking.
“A lot of my friends from Atlanta, where I went to film school, call me Brutus. It’s a funny little name,” he explained. “Brutus Jones was one of the first Blaxploitation films. And so, I always said that if I ever did music videos or worked in the space, that’s what I would go by: Brutus Jones. Again, it’s just like an homage to what came before and that whole space.”
If you've yet to see Valee’s “Miami (Remix)" visual, do yourself a favor and check it out here.